Make Your Voice Heard: Everything You Need To Know
Want to know a secret? No one is reading your political Facebook posts. Your elected officials never saw that Tweet you tagged them in six months ago. And that Instagram DM you just sent your Senator, urging them to protect the Affordable Care Act? They are never going to read it. Social media is an important tool for many things, but getting in touch with your Member of Congress is not one of them.
There is one way to contact your elected officials that is just as easy as a Tweet or a DM, but way more effective. It might sound soooo 1995, but the best way to get in touch with the governmental officials whose job it is to serve you is to pick up the phone. If you’re wondering where to start or what to say, keep reading. We’ve got answers to the most common questions.
Who? : Who should I call? Who will be voting on X issue? Who represents me in the House/Senate?
Head to this link: https://www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative/. Type in your address. Check out a list of public officials who represent you, from the top of the ballot (President, Vice President) all the way to the bottom (Mayor, Town Rep, Local Registrar of Voters). All of their phone numbers will be provided -- start dialing!
What?: What do I say? What are the important issues?
Whether you are most concerned about the topic of immigration, the environment, healthcare, reproductive freedom, education, gun safety, the economy, foreign policy, workers rights, or anything else, you can make your voice heard. Check out 5calls.org. 5calls is an organization that will get you up to speed on the important issues of the moment, and even give you a script to help you communicate your message. For example, here’s one of their scripts on the topic of reducing prescription drug costs:
Hi, my name is [NAME] and I'm a constituent from [PLACE].
I'm calling because I am very concerned about high prescription drug costs. I urge Rep. [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to support and vote for [Senate: S.62 and S.102; House: H.R.465], and other drug cost control bills. I am particularly interested in bills that...
PICK ONE OR TWO PRIORITIES:
- Allow importing of drugs from Canada
- Cap out-of-pocket drug spending
- Require branded drugs sold in the US to cost the same as those sold abroad
- Bring generic drugs to market faster
- Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly
Thank you for your time and attention.
IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: Please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied.
If you can convey a personal message or talk about a way in which this topic personally impacts you, that’s even better! This brings us to the most important question…
Why?: Why does it matter? Why is calling better than Tweeting? Why should I call if my MoC is already voting the right way? Why should I call if my MoC is definitely not going to vote the way I want them to?
Since the 2016 election, there have been multiple instances where Congressional phone lines went down due to the extremely high volume of calls, or staff was unable to do anything else but process the phone calls coming in. There’s possibly no better way to grab the attention of your Member of Congress than to take their staff away from them.
Even if your MoC votes the right way, it goes a long way to thank them. They will be able to go to the floor of Congress and describe the outpouring of support they’ve gotten from their constituents, which may sway the opinions of their undecided colleagues. The more personal your story, the better. For example, freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received a call from a constituent who was personally impacted by the government shutdown. She described his story on the floor of Congress, and the CSPAN video of her remarks quickly became the most-viewed CSPAN video on Twitter of all time. Even though AOC was a guaranteed opponent of the government shutdown, her constituent’s message reached millions of people and likely swayed many opinions.
Furthermore, even if your MoC votes the right way, it’s possible that they can do more. Maybe your U.S Representative has been an advocate in fighting climate change, but is dragging their feet on The Green New Deal. Maybe your State Senator is pro-choice, but is on the fence about guaranteeing Planned Parenthood funding as a State Constitutional Amendment. Voting the right way on legislation isn’t always enough. For the issues that matter most to us, we want our elected officials co-sponsoring bills, persuading their colleagues, and pushing for a vote on the floor of Congress.
If you know that your elected official will certainly vote in a way that is not consistent with your values, regardless of how strongly you urge them, it is important to let them know you’re paying attention. For most elected officials, their most important concern is re-election. Let them know you won’t vote for them the next time they run for office. Tell them you plan to donate money or volunteer for their opponent. Organize your friends, family, and community to do the same. Receiving a flood of calls like this will send the message that if they want to keep their job, they need to do a better job representing their constituents.
Do you have questions about contacting your elected officials that we didn't address in this blog post? Leave us a comment down below, and we'll be happy to answer your questions!